Manapua (from the Hawaiian mea ono – cake or pastry –and pua`a – pig) is the commonly used local Hawaiian term for Chinese bao – steamed or baked buns with filling. Unlike traditional dim sum bao, manapua are much larger, more substantial than just a little bite. As the story goes, manapua were popular among locals living in Hawaii at the turn of the 20th century and one perceptive vendor decided to make them much larger, to satisfy the appetites of those who loved them. You would be hard pressed to find a child in Hawai`i who has not enjoyed a manapua, traditionally filled with char siu (marinated pork), my picky son included. He is the apple of my eye, but I have had to get creative with his home lunches. I have made these a few times with different dough recipes and this combines two that I like. Filled with tasty, nutritious, chicken breast with kale and green apple and a hint of curry for warmth and spice, this baked bun makes us both happy. These take a little bit of effort to make but they freeze beautifully and make the morning school rush a snap. Note: These can also be steamed, vigorously, for 15-18 minutes. I unearthed my tiered electric steamer, which steamed 8 at a time.
Makes 12 large or 16 medium baked manapua
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided (plus more if dough is extra sticky)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup all-vegetable shortening (I used Spectrum brand)
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 cup 1% milk
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil for greasing bowl
- 1 large egg combined with a splash of water and pinch of salt for egg wash (not necessary if steaming)
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2 cups flour, salt and shortening. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Turn out coarse flour mixture into a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, mix 1/3 cup warm water with yeast packet and 2 T sugar, gently stirring. Let it soften for 5 minutes.
- Combine milk and ¼ cup warm water, and then stir in the yeast mixture. Add this liquid plus 2 T honey to the flour mixture and mix well.
- Add remaining 1 ½ cups of flour and stir until dough forms into a sticky mass. Turn out onto a well floured board and knead 5-8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
- Grease a large bowl with sesame oil. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm draft free place for about an hour, or until doubled in bulk. I have had good results by heating one cup of water in a microwave for one minute and then placing the covered bowl in the microwave with the warm water.
- When you are about 15 minutes away from filling manapua, remove filling from refrigerator and set aside. Cut 16 pieces of parchment, about 2” x 2” and lay out on a baking sheet. Set aside.
- Divide the dough into 16 portions. Flatten each dough ball into a circle by pulling out the sides of the circle with the tips of your fingers. You want the very center of the circle to be thicker than the edges – imagine a sunny side up egg. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling onto the center (the thickest part of your circle). Gather up the edges around the filling and pinch and twist to seal the bun. Gently transfer bun to prepared baking sheet with parchment paper, pinched side down. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Let the buns rise for 30 minutes.
- While filled buns are rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Gently brush tops with egg wash (unless steaming, in which case you should just load them up in the steamer after rising and steam vigorously for 15-18 minutes) and bake for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy immediately or allow buns to cool and then either refrigerate or freeze. NOTE: As shown in the photo, all 16 will fit on one baking sheet, although most likely the manapua will puff up and fuse to the one next to it. While I thought they might leak, I used a knife to separate them without any problem.
- 1 1/4 pound chicken breast, cut into pea sized pieces (easiest if partially frozen)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 large scallions, finely sliced
- 2 cups finely chopped kale
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 3/4 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
- 1/2 cup small dice Granny Smith apple
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- In a medium skillet, cook cut chicken in olive oil until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and scallions, and cook until fragrant. Add kale, curry powder and Chinese five spice. Stir to combine. Add salt to taste (I added ½ t). Remove from heat and stir in green apple. Set aside.
- Make sauce for filling by combining water, cornstarch, honey, tamari and apple cider vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, constantly whisking to incorporate cornstarch (use a spatula to get at clumped cornstarch at bottom of pot if necessary). Once thickened, remove from heat and add chicken/kale/apple mixture and stir to combine. Allow to cool before using. Can be made ahead, transferred to a bowl with a cover and refrigerated. Let mixture sit out for 15 minutes to take chill off before using.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Dumplings
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Brown Bag Lunch